When it’s time to launch your new business or product, the first people you want in the loop will be your friends and family, but it’s easy to step over the line and alienate some of the most important people in your life by bombarding them with promotional messages. It is possible to keep your friends and family in the loop about your business, but you’ll need to carefully consider how you approach them with your updates.
Here are a few tips on how to market a new product without alienating your friends:
Send Personalized Update E-Mails
It’s hard to resist sending out a “bcc” e-mail to everyone in your e-mail address book about your new product, but that strategy will yield very little by way of results. In fact, it may be counter-productive because it is impersonal.
Chris Guillebeau suggests sending out at least 50 e-mails to friends and colleagues that focus on simply telling them about your new product or project in one or two sentences and then following up with two suggested action steps. He writes, “You’re also not ‘selling’ anyone on the project; you’re just letting people know what you’re up to and inviting them to participate further if they’d like to. The action points can vary, but they should probably relate to joining a contact list (this way you have their permission to touch base with them further) and letting other people know about the project.”
The keys to online success, according to Guillebeau, are long-term, personalized connections rather than quick, impersonal strikes. By building relationships and connecting with customers, you’ll lay a long-lasting foundation. Pushing for the quick sell over and over again on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, and other sites will only annoy your friends.
Use Albums and Pinterest to Encourage User Browsing
The two challenges with sharing image of your products on sites such as Twitter and Facebook are both the short term nature of their value and the risk of annoying your friends and followers if you post the same picture repeatedly. It’s far better to think of long term promotion on social media for your product images.
Tristan Higbee has a particularly creative suggestion to use your Facebook photo albums to promote your work. He suggests, “Any link or blog post that you share on Facebook is normally buried and gone (that is, few people will see it) after, what, half a day or so? No one will find it after that. But when you post images into albums, they’re there forever. Whenever someone clicks to see your photos, they’ll see that album with your work content in it.”
Pinterest is another ideal tool for creating a series of images for your products on one of your pinboards. You can also post creative pictures of customers using your products rather than simply reposting the same tired image over and over again of it set against a white backdrop.
Use Games to Drive Customer Engagement
By providing games, incentives, and contests related to your products, you’ll be able to easily keep your friends and family involved with your product without hitting them up with the same old plea to share a link to it. If you build fun and community around your product, the hard work of marketing will be done for you.
Shane Snow and Phin Barnes co-authored a piece at Mashable where they write, “Common game elements like points, badges, leaderboards, and levels are proven (and increasingly popular) ways to engage customers and encourage profit-driving consumer behavior.”
Build Permission Marketing Channels
Perhaps the best way to think of marketing your product in general is to step away from interruption marketing and to embrace permission marketing. Marketing expert Seth Godin has been a leading advocate for permission marketing, which he defines as “the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”
Godin suggests that the advertising game has changed significantly in an interview with Fast Company: “This year, the average consumer will see or hear 1 million marketing messages – that’s almost 3,000 per day. No human being can pay attention to 3,000 messages every day.” Your friends and family are already bombarded with ads and brands trying to capture their attention. It’s far more effective to personally invite them to check out a specific promotion or mailing list that will meet an immediate need. If they opt out, don’t strain the relationship by pushing for them to sign up.
Use Content Rather than Direct Sells
Along similar lines as the advice to avoid the quick, hard sell, focus on simply sharing content and offers that your friends and family will enjoy and share without being pestered to retweet them or share them on Facebook. If they’re not sharing your content naturally, then you may not be providing content they’re interested in.
The site Facebook Marketing Tools suggests, “Write a relevant blog post and link to your post from your fan page wall. Place your call to action at the end of your blog post,” and “Create a YouTube video about your product and put your call to action (and a link to it) in the video description.” By simply providing the tools to share your content rather than pressuring anyone to promote your product, you’ll give your friends and family the power to do what they want. When they do choose to jump in and share your content, you’ll also learn valuable information about what content works best.
There’s a good chance you don’t know too many details about the day to day lives of your friends. Therefore, relationships may become strained if you expect them to suddenly put their lives on hold to click on all of your latest promotions and products. By providing multiple channels for engagement and more appealing content, you can let your friends and family opt in to help your business without opting out of a relationship with you.
This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a neon sign store that provides custom neon signs for businesses and individuals.